• Alberto Mezzalira

Review: Fort Triumph

Reviewed on: PS4

Developer: DigiTales Interactive

Publishers: Assemble Entertainment

Available on: PC/PS/XB/NS

Fort Triumph is a turn-based strategy game produced by CookieByte Entertainment and published by All in! Games. After the early access started on April 26, 2018, the full version was released on April 16, 2020, on PC. On the 13th of August 2021, the game was also released on PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch and Xbox One, along with Playstation 5 and Xbox Series S|X upgrades.

The game is settled in a medieval fantasy world. The player chooses one of the four factions, leads a group of heroes, develops their skills and performs missions. The game features two modes, Campaign and Skirmish, and both are based on exploration and skirmishes, during which you can use the environment to fight enemies. The maps and events in the game are randomly generated.

After this quick introduction, let us go deeper into the exploration of this entertaining turn-based game which reminds of a mix between Heroes of Might & Magic and XCOM.

Fort Triumph is mostly all about recruiting small bands of heroes, who fight in tactical skirmishes with small groups of fantasy creatures such as goblins, trolls and so on. When you are not in the middle of a battle players can reach the cities spread throughout the map; here you’ll be investing in buildings to yield a combat boost to your heroes. Rather than send ever-growing armies to scour the landscape for loot and battles, you’ll instead handle never more than a few bands of heroes. Losing heroes in this game is a massive deal as it has been built around permadeath.

At first, I got confused by the tutorial and by the way information was given; the text is tiny, interfaces are small, and some of them are difficult to navigate. Developer CookieByte has acknowledged that there are some issues with the general game readability, and are looking to improve things. So I wasn’t sure how all of this would come together, but mechanically, Fort Triumph has been a total surprise.

On the battlefield, there are many tactical options, from the “overwatch” stance for ranged units to the ability to create magical tornadoes that knock over trees and damage units standing behind them. Exploiting the map at its best is critical as it is possible to use kicks, throws, and other actions to manipulate the battlefield to displace and move enemy units around or protect your weak units and push them into the firing line of your big hitters. For example, a fallen-pillar-to-the-head does significant damage and stuns the target.

Both you and your enemies will use this as an advantage. And it works well, effectively giving you another thing to think about on the battlefield.

When you’re not in battle, the map looks like a game board, and you have a set number of squares you can move in a turn. So, you’re exploring a fog of war and uncovering hidden villages, abandoned chests, mini-events and combat encounters.

Permadeath is an interesting but frustrating feature. Should your character die in battle, you only have a few opportunities to revive it. Also, all of the levels and upgrades go with them, so you have to protect your characters dearly. You’re not completely nobbled by a character’s death – a lot of your progression comes from your hub, so you get a base quality from your heroes – but it still hurts.

The level-up system for characters is really interesting, with a library of abilities per character class that can be optionally unlocked on levelling up. Abilities can be common, uncommon, and rare. The upgrades are random meaning that two characters can develop very differently, even if they’re within the same class.

According to my experience, the best way to enjoy Fort Triumph is by playing the Skirmish mode, where you can pick a faction (from four, though the differences are mostly aesthetic), and start a battle against three opponents on randomly drawn maps. Because of its mechanics, and that the AI is workable, there’s a lot of replay value in Fort Triumph. Despite the low number of heroes, the skills variety and expansive inventory/equipment system does help to mitigate this aspect.

On the other hand, the story mode, which is clearly the main one, is the weakest element of the game. You will be doing the same things you do in skirmishes, but with narrative objectives that are repetitive and badly designed. The bright side of these quests is that the dialogues of the main quests are filled with humour.

Aesthetically, the game looks pleasing, with a mix of both serious and satirical elements. There’s nothing distinctive about how Fort Triumph looks but overall, it has its vibe.

Depending on how you play Fort Triumph, it can be surprisingly short for the genre, the campaign levels probably amount to eight hours in total, or it can be interminably long if, you spend more time wandering the world and starting procedurally generated battles.

Despite few criticisms, there’s a lot to like about Fort Triumph. If you loved XCOM and Heroes of Might & Magic you will definitely enjoy a fusion worth of those two good games. The presence of skirmish mode really manages to balance a repetitive and poorly designed campaign. Playing Fort Triumph was a very interesting experience and I recommend it but if you’re not a fan of turn based strategy rpgs you’ll bounce off Fort Triumph quickly, but it’s a good time while it lasts.